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KRAZY4KATZ's Photo KRAZY4KATZ Posts: 2,993
1/2/14 1:49 P

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I'm so sorry for all you've been through with your dogs. You are truly a Champion Dog Lover, and am so glad that Sarah found you. You've done wonders for her and she is a fighter. Best of luck with the other issue with Robin.

MYBULLDOGS's Photo MYBULLDOGS Posts: 9,578
1/2/14 5:50 A

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CHEBBA's Photo CHEBBA Posts: 796
1/1/14 7:36 P

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You are so right - certain breeds are more disposed to cancer than others and Rotts, GSD's, Newfs and Bernese Mountain Dogs, also Dobes, tend to get the lion's share. My heart goes out to you, it truly does. But you are also right re the diet and I am as guilty of feeding quality commercial food as are most dog owners. Having said that, pedigree or crossbreed, I've had them all and have fed them all pretty much the same. Some pedigrees have gone young, others have lived to beyond 14; some crosses have gone young, others have made great ages. I bow to the theory of certain diets but am not convinced that anything is a guarantee. OES tend to get heart problems -I lost a wonderful precious girl at 7, due to a ferocious heart condition which we'd nursed since a pup, but the oldest OES I've had lived to 14 and also had a heart problem!
BTW, I'm not a breeder, in case you wondered. Don't have the temperament for it.

Have you ever read the wonderful book by Juliette de Baraclai-Levi, who bred Afghans in Israel? The Handbook of Natural Rearing? I do make her terrific natural/organic Bedouin biscuits but have never done the main diet regime. Perhaps I should... Oh dear! Now I'm feeling guilty.

In these days of high science we beat ourselves up about health conditions and assume they are avoidable if we do this, don't do that. Hip dysplasia is a classic example and it's alluded to as being a moden scourge. But..... ancient remains have been tested and found to have had it,, and arthritis, thousands of years ago! No commercially produced food around then! In the end, the best owners love their pets, we do our best in good faith at that time.

Go well, my friend. Lucky is the dog who enters your door. And remember - measure your memories of your dogs as the greater amount of happy times, and not only as the relatively short, albeit ghastly, memories. I break my heart when they go, I'm a wreck on the floor of the surgery, the vets know what I'm like. But I have committed to remembering each dog as it was for years, rather than as it was for days, weeks or a few months. For me, to do otherwise would be to sell them short. I have their ashes in our bedroom, 11 elegant boxes to date.. My babies are home where I can have them close still. I'm not a nutter, I promise you, but for me, it works!

Warmly....

Jo

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3HOURLADY Posts: 1,642
1/1/14 6:45 P

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Hi, I went through a similar scenario several years ago, so I know what you are going through. My English Bulldog had breast cancer, and we had to put her down. Then my Rottweiler had osteosarcoma, and we had to put her down a month later. It was so upsetting, and I still cry when I talk about them. We spent thousands of dollars on biopsies, surgery, and medication trying to keep them comfortable. Not everyone can go this route financially.

I just wanted to share some things i learned from going through all this. If I could go back, and do things over again I would have kept feeding my dogs raw homemade food. They were very healthy until I switched to commercial kibble. Raw homemade food is a lot of work, and it takes dedication. I began doing this because I read that Rottweilers are very susceptible to cancer, so I wanted to give her the best diet. Life got hectic, so I switched to a high grade commercial kibble. Later I found Dr. Demian Dressler's Dog Cancer Vet website, and he explained that commercial dog food is prepared at very high temperatures, and this creates carcinogens. Beef and poultry are factory farmed, and have a lot of contamination from bacteria, salmonella, etc., so the dog food companies figure if they heat the meat up to very high temperatures this will kill any bugs, and make the meat safe. However it creates carcinogens, and susceptible breeds can't handle it.

Now that I know this, what do I do if I can't deal with making raw food? There are a handful of dog food companies that use buffalo. lamb, and use human grade ingredients. They are expensive, but it's a way to keep the doggies from getting sick.

Your adorable sheepdog has the same esphagus condition as my husband, and he has to do the same thing, drink water with his meals. When the doggies get older they end up like us when we get old! I hope Robin feels better. And Sarah is amazing. She has a spirit to move forward after her amputation. All the best to you and the doggies.



CHEBBA's Photo CHEBBA Posts: 796
1/1/14 4:10 P

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Thank you to both of you who have replied so far, for your responses and the gracious acceptance of my long post. Having written it all down has been cathartic and I now need to think of me and get down to the business of shifting this weight. Yes, I am fortunate that I have the ability to afford the enormous bills for our beloved pets, but we have no children nor grandchildren, which makes things easier I suppose.

I am going to tell myself this: Sarah and Robin have no choice but to put up with their afflictions and handicaps. They are stoical and remain happy and kind. With examples of forbearance like that in my own home, surely it isn't beyond me to be able to focus on losing weight??? Yup, I'll use them as my motivators, not my excuses.

Thank you, both, again.

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OLDERDANDRT's Photo OLDERDANDRT SparkPoints: (107,983)
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1/1/14 3:50 P

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Wow!! I could not have dealt with any of that financially or emotionally, my friend!! Kudos to you on all counts!! Nice that you also had the money to deal with what was necessary for the well-being of Sarah!! What a fabulous metamorphosis!! You have a good heart and I sure am glad you have that 6th sense and can catch these things early on. Thanks for posting this. Happy 2014 to all of you!!

Jayne

Zone 7 Mid western Piedmont of N.C.
Eastern time zone

"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there."

"It doesn't get easier, you just get better!"


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GINA180847's Photo GINA180847 Posts: 8,702
1/1/14 2:15 P

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Wow, good for you to persevere! Our rottie cross had a lot of health problems and the vet finally cured him with steroids. Only problem is now we have to keep him on a permanent diet.

"The world is one country and mankind its citizens" one of the many truths spoken by Baha'u'llah and "Love is the light that guideth in darkness, the living link that uniteth God with man, that assureth the progress of every illumined soul."


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CHEBBA's Photo CHEBBA Posts: 796
1/1/14 1:41 P

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Firstly, Happy New Year everyone! Secondly, I apologise for this being a very long post, but I especially wanted it to reach the Dog Lover's Team and not be lost just as a blog.

Whilst many people have had, and continue to have, dreadful dramas and events with which to deal, we all walk only in our own shoes. Even by my own standards 2013 was a roller coaster, starting with a serious fall which has left some nasty pains and restricts certain things. Other major things just kept coming in waves but I won't go into them here. Here is where I want to give praise to my dogs but add how their issues gave me an excuse to continue to not take control of my weight situation. (Note 'continue' - I was already off the wagon! To be fair to me, I max'd out and couldn't cope with any more situations requiring concentration.) In the space of 4 weeks in late June/July, we had major events with each of our 3 dogs. We had to have our beloved Shirley, the world's most wonderful, placid, easy-going of spaniel x retriever thingy's, put to sleep. It broke my heart as DB had RAF duties, had said his probable goodbyes to his precious girl and I had to do everything myself, making that final decision, waiting with her to see the vet, taking her body straight to the wonderful private crematorium, stopping to buy flowers on the way (I must have looked a wreck) and saying my farewells in the lovely little chapel there. She was a diamond dog, the sort ANYONE could own, but we couldn't let her suffer any longer. OMG we miss that lovely lady soooo much. A week later I decided to tackle the niggly problem with our now 12 1/2 yr old OES, Robin, on my homepage. He was well and had had nothing so serious as to warrant a vet visit. He'd lost a bit of weight and a lot of muscle tone, but his age made it nothing over which to panic. But, retching and vomiting of undigested food several hours after eating, or all his water within minutes of drinking, was becoming more frequent and sent me to the internet now Shirley was no longer my higher priority. I realised that he fitted perfectly the rare condition 'megaoesophagus', where the swallow muscles cease to work. I immediately started to hand feed Robin as described, bolt upright on his beaten-up old farmhouse kitchen armchair, following this with water so that gravity takes everything down - astonishing. Since that day he's never thrown up once! Having a LOT of experience with dogs I knew there was a) no need to rush 25 miles to the vet as Rob was otherwise healthy and b) no treatment for the condition anyway - but he did confirm, on a later visit, that he does have MO. Worries are the increased risk of an aspiration pneumonia from water/food particle getting into his lungs, but I now always have a supply of antibiotics to hit him with if I think he sounds 'wrong'.. and bloat, which is horrific. Giving water on top of a meal isn't ideal for this but the alternative for a dog with MO is worse. It's a huge management issue for us but it's working and Robin is fine, apart from spondylitis which has now reared its head at a good age for our retired champion. (OK, it manifested itself painfully at 2am with confusing symptoms which could also have been early bloat. That ended up as a night-time dash to Boston UK, where the vet gave me morphine injections to give Rob and barium so he could do tests later under GA, 24 hours later, for pancreatitis. It wasn't that, but severe pain from the spondy. V. expensive!)

The next drama after identifying the MO hit us a week later, on Tuesday, when our glorious rescue GSDxRotti started to limp on her front leg. A terrific walker with DB (DH for those of you across the water!) we thought it a minor sprain so rested her. The next day, Wednesday, I suggested to DB that we should not be complacent, that it could be something sinister. He was vv irritated, saying that I always assume the worst, that I'm obsessed blah blah. After 24 years of living with someone whose life revolves around dogs, hedgehog and critter rescue and the rest of our menagerie, he should've known better. It sounds conceited and I TRULY don't want you to think that, because I am absolutely not. I can't help it - I'm nothing special but I DO have an instinct which you can't teach people, it's an uncanny knack to be able to look at something and just know when it's time to move FAST. Unfortunately, the downside is that the poor old vets often can't diagnose things when I take one of the animals in so early in the illness/condition that it's hard to diagnose with conviction. Anyway, on the Thursday evening I took her upstairs where DB was in bed and told him not to roll his eyes but to clasp her front knee joint as it was red hot and swollen. He IMMEDIATELY 'got it'. We had a big day planned the next day, taking my 92yr old father to a huge Air Day, so I said for DB to take him whilst I took Sarah to see Alistair, the vet. Very quickly, Alistair was concerned and said we should x-ray. I looked him in the eye and said 'Alistair, your'e not saying anything. You think its osteosarcoma, don't you?' and he admitted it. Things then whirled. For those of you who have not experienced this, it's the most aggressive and painful of all cancers in dogs where the bone is literally exploding from the inside. The pain cannot be managed for long either. Also, by the time the owner realises what's up, the likelihood of it having already metastasized to a blood-rich location, the lungs, is 90% certain. Our vet is fantastic, hates putting any animal under anaesthetic if it isn't in it's interests, ALWAYS puts the animal first, not science. He's the sort to say 'Look, X is 11 now and to put him/her through this procedure, those tests, etc etc, will not improve quality of life. We can do it, but we must look at the bigger picture and see what is best for X'. He said that we'd spotted the problem early but that, if it was what he thought it was (without the confirmation of a biopsy) things were grim. Pain relief would only hold her for 3 weeks at the most. Chemo meant a long hauls to to hospital with the possibility of sickness (yup, had an OES with lymphosarcoma many years ago, so we knew all about that). We could wait for a biopsy to be done but it would take a week for the results to come back - and DB and I knew we didn't have the luxury of time. We were reeling. Alistair is very good, gives us our options but lets us make the decisions - we asked him what HE would do, even without the biopsy, and without blinking he said he'd have the leg off in a thrice. We booked the theatre for the Monday morning and spent the rest of the weekend on the internet, researching canine amputation, and ringing Alistair constantly with questions. The website www.tripawds.com was a stunning find and gave us huge hope and inspiration. We were entering new territory and the decision to amputate was dreadful - but to do nothing for this 5 year old girl would be even worse. Look on my photo gallery and see the skeletal 40lb creature we'd rescued 2 1/2 years earlier from a truly horrific life; she had been covered in slimy diarrhoea, had the worst worms I've ever seem, was totally out of control and wanted to kill every bird or critter be it in our home or the garden. Pretty soon we realised that, although she was fine with our house dogs, she was terrible with any others she met, ditto with any people other than us. It was a l-o-n-g road but fast forward to this point and we had a fabulously healthy girl, now fine with our other pets, fabulous with people coming into our home with our permission, doing well at training and being the most exquisite lass with us. We couldn't do nothing, we couldn't see her suffer and after her awful start in line we wanted to give her a chance. Monday was terrifying, but the operation went superbly. We collected Sarah the next morning and she was already hopping around the recovery room, enjoying the fuss and attention. What a superb bit of surgery too. Whatever pain she had was vastly less that what she had been suffering and she looked sparkly again. Losing a front leg is far worse than a back one, it's the powerhouse end and most of the weight is above there, too. And having had a little rescue GSD-cross with CRDM, I know how much easier it was to cope with rear leg paralysis. (BTW, the retrospective biopsy confirmed it WAS OS, moderate to aggressive.) Within 3 weeks we had Sarah at canine hydrotherapy, where she quickly went from nervous of the water and a bit dodgy with the therapist, to twice weekly swimming like an Olympian, adoring Debbie and rushing up the in-ramp and pretty much diving in from the side. She even got to the stage of not needing her flotation harness. Apres-hydro treats of going with us to the beer garden of a local pub, or going to collect grandma and grandpa and go to a different pub, well, we've made darned sure she has had quality of life. On her special harness she now goes for short walks locally, and she is a truly astonishing girl. Have we beaten it? I truly don't know. We won the battle, for sure - but did we win the war? We are now 6 months on and the next 3 months are going to be nerve-wracking. Would we ever do this again? Well, hopefully, this won't happen to any more of our dogs. It's horrid. I would have to weigh the different set of circumstances and take into account many different factors. It has also ramped up huge expenses if you add on the hydrotherapy work too. BUT, for this otherwise healthy 5yr old who had only recently found her forever home after a disgusting start in life, it was the right, if scary, decision. There IS quality of life on three legs, and better to hop on three than die early, in pain, on four. To this day we have opposition from some people who think it's kinder to PTS a dog with cancer. They, of course, have never seen Sarah now grinning from ear to ear and playing/swimming/pain-free, nor experienced this with any dog of their own. REALLY? Well you just come and live in our house and see the joy on this girl's face and see how brilliantly she does and how happy she is. Would I do the same again with similar circumstances? In a heartbeat. Oh yes, now that I know what I know, in a heartbeat. An older, sicker, less resilient dog, hmm, probably not but for Sarah it was 100% the right decision.

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE visit my photograph gallery and see Sarah. She is stunning and you will be inspired by seeing her metamorphosis from 4-legged skeleton to amputee glory. BTW, we are nothing if not suckers for punishment - in August one of our little parrots had to be rushed to an avian specialist at a weekend (why is it ALWAYS at night or a weekend??) as she was not responding to treatment from a local vet. She had her first ever egg stuck sideways and it needed to be collapsed under anaesthetic and removed. 2 days and $700 later she came home, plus a hormone implant to make sure there will be no more eggs! But we still have Mary, phew. The following week we had a frantic call asking us if we could foster an OES, desperate for a roof until a home could be found, although he wasn't a novice owner's dog. He was fine with the other OES in the house he was in but doesn't like children. We would therefore be perfect for him to foster so, although we really had had a basin-full, we knew we had to step in. He'd had 3 homes and was now having to leave the foster home owing to sudden/serious family illness and we were the only people who might be able to take in such a dog when, without dedicated kennels, the rescue had no access to regular kennels as it was holiday time and everywhere was full. We are rubbish fosterers. Once something crosses the threshold that's it. Within 3 days we'd decided to keep Harley, but it isn't plain sailing as, 6 weeks later, he suddenly decided that he hates Robin. More of all that another time. Nobody is going anywhere. Everyone has their forever home, and we adore Harley as much as he does us. Sigh. We think he was destined to come here, if only for his sake rather than our own. 2014 is the year we will get on top of THIS little nightmare - and resolve it we most certainly will.

Thank you for reading and, once again, please appreciate why I particularly wanted this to reach the Dog Lovers Team. If you have worries about amputation for your dog, please contact me. IT WORKS!

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